Natalie Deserved the Oscar. End of Story.
This story has plagued both publications and the blogosphere alike for the last week, and damn it, it really needs to stop. This is one of the most annoying, ill-founded, and downright inappropriate smear campaigns against a great performer in recent memory. First off, even if Natalie Portman didn’t train for and perform a great deal of dancing in “Black Swan,” that’s not why people do or should win Oscars (unless you’re Jennifer Hudson, who sang her way to an Oscar in ’06 since she sure as hell can’t act worth a damn). People win Oscars for acting, and that’s what Portman did. She acted her ass off.
I mean seriously, people. This is horrible. It’s like saying: “I actually heard a rumor once that Natalie did not do her own makeup for the final scene. Nor did she even design her own costumes. I’m appalled. She didn’t deserve the Oscar.” All of these accusations are nearly as absurd as expecting an actress to somehow cram fifteen to twenty years of dancing experience into one year of film training.
Of course, this all started when Portman’s apparent “dance double,” Sarah Lane, complained that the actress only performed five percent of the dancing in the final cut of the film. I’ve only seen the film once, but running it through my head, something about that figure automatically sounds fishy. Maybe this dancer got a raw deal, simply being credited as a hand double and an extra, but way to go by turning yourself into an international joke by insinuating that Natalie was a fraud in the film.
Meanwhile, director Darren Aronofsky is dancing to a different drumbeat, defending his actress and her career-defining performance to the last stroke. In an interview with the UK Guardian, he claims that Portman did in fact do eighty to ninety percent of her dancing in the film, putting the double to shame. In an excerpt from the piece, he says:
However, Aronofsky has issued a statement claiming Portman performed 80 to 90% of the routines seen in the final cut of his film. “Here is the reality,” he said. “I had my editor count shots. There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math, that’s 80% Natalie Portman.”
He added: “What about duration? The shots that feature the double are wide shots and rarely play for longer than one second. There are two complicated longer dance sequences that we used face replacement. Even so, if we were judging by time over 90% would be Natalie Portman.”
Aronofsky states that Portman did, in fact, dance on point, a difficult technique which was also said to be played false by Lane. The Guardian article also features costar Mila Kunis defending all of Portman’s performance, as well, stating that she “danced her ass off.”
What it all comes down to is CUT THE S#!T. This plague of defamation must end. I can only hope that in the end, it will only help to bolster the legacy of Portman’s performance when people realize how much she actually worked long and hard for this role. Shame on all who say otherwise.
Check out the opening scene from “Black Swan” below, re-color corrected and cut to a different song. Also, you can view the entire Guardian article, here.